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News > Remembering > Remembering Anne Corden

Remembering Anne Corden

We are sorry to hear of the passing of Anne Corden, here she is remembered fondly by her granddaughter, Louise Corden. 

"My grandmother Anne Corden, who has died aged 106, grew up in Cambridge and London but spent a fair chunk of her adult life abroad, where she supported her husband George’s work as a commander of RAF bases, not only bringing up her own family but taking on the pastoral role of providing support to service people.

Born during the first world war in Hoo, Kent, Anne was the eldest of the four children of Kathleen (nee Wilson), a housewife, and her husband, Hamilton Hartridge, a lecturer in physiology at King’s College, Cambridge. After attending Queen’s College school in London, her first job was in the dressmaking department at the Liberty department store, where, on one occasion, she ended up measuring the Queen of Romania, since she was one of the few people who knew how to correctly address and curtsy to royalty.

Anne decided to switch to physiotherapy in the late 1930s, but discovered that at just under 5ft 2in she was too short to meet the strict height requirements. A sympathetic official quietly massaged her statistics so that she could be accepted into training in Harley Street before she moved to Mount Vernon hospital in Northwood, north west London, where she worked, on and off, for the rest of her career.

After her marriage to George in 1943, there was a posting to Egypt for three years in 1948, followed by moves to bases in Malta (1955-58) and France (1962-64). Anne was instrumental in building a sense of community in each of those places.

Finally settling back in Northwood in 1964, she lived and worked there for the next 30 years, apart from a spell when she and George became joint managers of Princess Marina House, an RAF convalescent home near Rustington, West Sussex.

After George’s death in 1983 she went on painting holidays to Tunisia, Croatia and Greece, nurturing an artistic talent that in her earlier years had led her to illustrate many of her father’s scientific papers and lecture slides.

Later she moved to Hampstead Garden Suburb, north London, to be closer to her family. Fiercely independent, she lived in her own house, still gardening, walking to the shops and doing her own cooking, until she was 100. Only a broken hip slowed her down in her last few years, and she remained a brilliant raconteur, enthralling guests with vivid stories from her life.

Born before women were able to vote, she was a strong believer in equality and marvelled at the changes that took place in her lifetime. She was also a supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, stating that “love could never shock me, only the horrible things people do to one another”.

Her only child, James, died in 2020. She is survived by her grandchildren, Greg, Andrew and me, and great-grandchildren Jacob and Oscar."

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